How Xerox moved beyond copiers and brings high tech solutions to unexpected places.

Curated by Gregory Pings, manager of Content Marketing for Xerox

Sophie Vandebroek

Chief technology officer Sophie Vandebroek: “You can’t be creative and entrepreneurial unless you truly bring your heart to work.”

Here’s a story Xerox chief technology officer Sophie Vandebroek shared with Fast CompanyWhile at an MIT career fair a few years ago, she wondered why Google and IBM had long lines at their booths, while the Xerox booth had hardly a trickle. So she asked one of the students. The reply: “You just make copiers.”

“They had no clue about [our] other businesses,” Sophie recalled in the Fast Company article. So the next year, a sign on the Xerox booth announced: “We no longer make copiers.” (It’s literally true. Our copiers are now multi-function with the ability to fax, scan and print.) The trickle from the previous year turned into a long line as students asked what it is that we do.

Sound familiar?

A bit more than half of our business comes from services such as running electronic tolling solutions on bridges and highways, processing the insurance claim for your annual check-up, or helping teachers understand their students’ strengths and weaknesses. By 2017, we expect that these (and many other) types of services will account for about three-quarters of our revenue.

These new businesses are fueled by unstructured, blue-sky rap sessions that get people think more creatively about problems and solutions. Sophie calls them “Dreaming Sessions.”

If you simply ask a teacher what Xerox can do to make her job easier, the reply is likely to be: “Make your copiers go faster.” But if you have a real conversation and actively listen to the answers, you discover that what teachers really need is a better way to grade papers and quickly figure out how to adjust lesson plans for individual students.  This is an example of actual dreaming sessions that our researchers conducted with teachers. They resulted in  Xerox multifunction printers that automatically extract data from a test, and gives teachers insight into what their students need to learn their lessons better. (The solution is called Ignite.)

“Being innovative to me is being both creative and entrepreneurial,” Sophie told Fast Company. “And you can’t be creative and entrepreneurial unless you truly bring your heart to work, and have fun at work. Having fun is really essential. You need to have fun every day.”

That’s Sophie’s take on how Xerox moved well beyond copiers. Read “How Xerox Evolved from Copier Company to Creative Powerhouse” in Fast Company.

(Updated Jan. 2, 2014: This video shows other ways that our services, technology, and expertise simplify the way business works so the world works a little better.)